One week, five murders, two brothers, and a single crime spree gave birth to what is now known as the Wichita Massacre or the Wichita Horror. From December 8th to 15th, Reginald and Johnathon Carr murdered five people and wounded two others in Wichita, Kansas, before finally being arrested by law enforcement.
The story begins with the carjacking of assistant baseball coach Andrew Schreiber on December 8th. This happened shortly after the Carr brothers arrived in Wichita. They forced him to drive around the neighborhood, withdrawing funds from ATMs until they could get nothing more from him. Finally, they left him uninjured with his tires shot and a bank account devoid of money.
For the next several days, everything was quiet as police had nothing to work with other than Schreiber’s description of two black males. That peace and quiet was broken though three days later.
Five-Day-Long Murder Spree
The horrors of the Wichita Massacre began on December 11th, 2000, when the brothers shot 55-year-old Ann Walenta, cellist, and librarian. She had been sitting in her car, idling in her driveway, when the two brothers approached with guns pointed.
Her husband and children founded the Ann Walenta Music Scholarship/Fellowship after her death in 2004. The scholarship aims to help children follow their love of music just as she had.
Police were able to get a description of the gunmen from her. It was obvious that she had been an unfortunate victim of the same perps that had robbed Schreiber three days earlier. There was still not much to go off, though, and officers suspected that Walenta would not be the last victim.
The pressure was on and increased even further on December 14th, the final night of the horror and murderous rampage.
A Home Invasion and the Final Night of Terror
Five unsuspecting friends and roommates were enjoying a night together at home. Their evening was interrupted, and a string of events would culminate in the deaths of four of them. Reginald and Johnathon Carr invaded the home of the sole survivor of that night, H.G. They wielded handguns and golf clubs and forced five friends into a room.
Crawling the entire house, they searched for all the valuables they could find, during which they found an engagement ring belonging to Jason Befort, H.G.’s boyfriend. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to propose to his love.
Once the brothers had found everything valuable they could, they took their victims out one by one. The victims were forced to withdraw money from local ATMs. By the end of the hour-long period, which happened between midnight and 1 am, they had accumulated around $2,000.
Brutal Series of Sex Crimes
At this point, the true horrors began for the group of friends. After being tied up, a brutal series of sex crimes were committed against the five of them.
When the brothers finally tired of that, they forced the three men to commit sexual acts upon the women as they watched. They were taken to a field after more than an hour of brutality, where they were put in two vehicles.
Once all five had been shot, the brothers ran them over with one of the trucks and left them for dead. But in what can only be called a miracle, H.G. survived. Afterward, the two brothers returned to the home. They took the valuables, and beat H.G.’s dog, Nikki, to death with a golf club.
The names of the four murder victims were Heather Muller (Preschool teacher, 25), Aaron Sander (Former Koch employee planning on becoming a priest, 29), Jason Befort (Science teacher, 26), and Brad Heyka (Financial Director, 27).
H.G’s Survival and Trek for Safety
A plastic barrette that H.G. had been wearing deflected the bullet meant to end her life into the side of her head, avoiding her brain, and somehow the weight of the truck did not crush her.
After walking for over a mile, she arrived at a house where the residents saw her and let her in. They called 911, but H.G. wanted to recount the night’s events to the police herself while she still could. She then received medical care until the ambulance could arrive. Authorities withheld her identity due to her being a victim of a sex crime, but it was later revealed that her name was Holly Glover.
Capture and Arrest of Reginald and Johnathon Carr
After H.G. called the police, the local news station began broadcasting the story. The coverage played a big part in the capture and arrest of the Carr brothers. A man watching the news saw a truck matching Jason Befort’s truck description, which the brothers had used to run over their victims. The man reported the sighting to the police, leading to the capture of the Carr brothers. Another man saw two people matching the Carrs’ descriptions carrying a large tv out of the apartment.
Police were notified and arrived at the apartment, where they found Reginald and arrested him after he attempted to flee. Andrew Schreiber, the first victim of the Carr brothers, identified him as one of the two who robbed him.
Later that night, Jonathan’s girlfriend’s mother arrived and found him sleeping on the couch. Befort’s engagement ring for H.G. was in his possession, so she called the police. When he found out, he attempted to flee, but he was captured after only a short chase. He was taken into custody alongside his brother.
Both Walenta, who was still alive then, and H.G. identified the Carr brothers as the ones who attacked them.
During the trial, subsequent appeals, and court hearings, both brothers continued to point the finger at each other, stating that the other brother did it. However, this was just the beginning. 21 years later, the two brothers are still alive and are currently serving on death row at the El Dorado Correctional Facility.
Lengthy Drawn Out Death Sentence and Appeals
Since 2001, the Carr case has still drawn attention to itself thanks to Kansas’ death penalty’s tumultuous history over the last 20 years. In 2001 the brothers were given the death sentence. However, in 2004, the Kansas Supreme Court overturned the death penalty, only for it to be overturned that same year again, this time by the state attorney general.
The Carr brothers were once again stuck on death row. In 2014, their death sentences were overturned on appeal. Without getting into the legal jargon, the death sentence was overturned due to the two brothers not receiving separate trials, which violated the U.S. Constitution, according to their legal counsel.
In the end, though, the higher court kept most of the charges against the brothers. The trial in the lower courts was allegedly riddled with errors. However, the upper court did rule on the side of allowing separate trials for the brothers, and even if the death sentence was overturned for one or both, they would still serve 70 to 80 years without parole.
Republican Attorney General Derek Schmidt said that this decision was “an important milestone” because the brothers were running out of appeal options. However, the brothers still had a few left to them.
The Death Sentence was Re-instated
Once again, the state attorney general was unhappy with this decision and appealed the high court’s ruling all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices heard the case in January 2016. They ruled (8-1) that the brothers’ constitutional rights had not been violated by not having separate trials.
After the U.S. Supreme court sent it back to the Kansas Supreme Court. Attorney General Derek Schmidt stated that this was what the Wichita community had been waiting for since the long grueling trial process started in 2001.
In his statement, he said, “The legal path to this day has been long and winding for the victims and their families, for the Wichita and Sedgwick County community, and for all of Kansas, but today’s decisions by the Kansas Supreme Court are welcome confirmations that although the wheels of justice may turn slowly they do ultimately propel us all forward.”
Since then, the brothers have been awaiting their executions at the El Dorado Correctional Facility. They have finally run out of appeals after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against them.
The Criticism Surrounding Media Coverage of the Murder Spree
As tends to happen when there is an interracial crime, there was a lot of criticism surrounding the Carr brother’s rampage. Both brothers are black, and all of their victims were white. However, the District Attorney said no evidence pointed toward it being a hate crime. Instead, it was treated as any other crime, but a lot of media was not happy with that choice.
Conservative media especially was unhappy. Multiple commentators like Michelle Malkin, Thomas Sowell, and David Horowitz said the national media downplayed the crime in the name of political correctness. Sowell, who is an African-American, stated that the media has a double standard when it comes to reporting interracial crimes.
He said they like to play up crimes committed against blacks by white people. Simultaneously suppress crimes just as bad as black people commit against whites. It can be said for certain that another crime occurred only several days before the Carr brothers. This made people think the media coverage may have indeed been related to the victims’ race.
Eight days before the Carr brothers began their murderous rampage, four young black people were murdered by another black person but received far less media coverage.
Before Oliver murdered the women as well. The men were shot in the back of their heads while they were on the couch. Later that day, he was picked up by police with blood still on his shoes.
While speculation abounds about the different amounts of media coverage surrounding both cases, even though they both resulted in multiple deaths. The Carr brothers was a week-long rampage, with random victims chosen randomly and included rape, kidnapping, robbery, and execution-style murders.
The Kansas Supreme Court reaffirmed the Carr brothers’ death sentence on January 21, 2022. No new updates on the case have been reported since then. The brothers await their execution, but there is no telling when exactly that could be as there is no current date set for it.
H.G. and Andrew Schreiber, the two survivors of the Carr brothers’ week of terror, married in 2004 after meeting at the trial and becoming friendly towards one another. Later that year, H.G. went on to receive a Teacher of the Year award. The couple is still happily together.
Heather Muller, a preschool teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, had a yearly award named after her.
It is called the Heather Muller Love of Faith Award. The award is given to an 8th-grade student who deserves it each year to honor her memory.